Monday, July 16, 2007

Save Us Both

June Jordan, Archival Papers, Radcliffe Institute 1960-2001
Essence: The Magazine for Today’s Black Woman, 1970-1984
Aegis: Magazine on Ending Violence Against Women, Feminist Alliance Against Rape, 1974-1980
Black Renaissance: Papers from the Black Renaissance Convention (South Africa), 1974
Sojourner: A Magazine of Women’s Writing and Visual Art, 1974 (No. 1 Double Issue)
Feminary, 1976-1985
Chrysalis: A Magazine of Women’s Culture 1977-1980
Break De Chains of Legalized U$ Slavery, North Carolina Hard Times Prison Project, 1978
The Winner Names the Age: Collected Writings of Lillian Smith, ed Michelle Cliff, 1978
Off Our Backs Jan-Sept 1979
Frontiers: Journal of the National Women’s Studies Association, 1979-1980
Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics, 1979-1981
“Paule Marshall: In Celebration of Our Triumph”, Alexis DeVeaux, Essence ,1979
“Racism and Women’s Studies”, Barbara Smith, Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies Spring 1980
“Piece Work in the University 1970’s Style”, Sharon Josephs Alexander, Frontiers, Spring 1980
“The NWSA (National Women’s Studies Association) Constituency: Evaluation of 1979 Conference Participation, Patricia A. Frech and Barbara Hillyer Davis, Frontiers Spring, 1980.
“Diversity, Fragmentation, Integration: The NWSA Balancing Act, Patricia Frech, Barbara Hillyer Davis, Frontiers, Spring-Summer 1981.
“Finding Our Collective Identity: The 1980 NWSA Conferernce Evaluation”, Patricia Frech and Barbara Hillyer Davis, Frontiers, Spring Summer 1981
Sunbury: An Annual Literary Review 9 & 10, 1980-1981
Mailbongwe ANC Women: Poetry is Also Their Weapon, ed Sono Molefe, 1980.
Staffrider (South Africa), 1980-1992
“Bernice Reagon: B’lieve I’ll Run On...” interview by Alexis DeVeaux, Essence, 1981
“Creating Soul Food: June Jordan”, interview by Alexis DeVeaux, Essence, 1981
“A Song for Billie’, Alexis DeVeaux, Essence 1981
“Zimbabwe Free At Last/Womanfire”, Alexis DeVeaux, Essence 1981
“Southern Africa: Listening for the News”, Alexis DeVeaux, Essence 1982
“Loving the Dark in Me”, Alexis DeVeaux, Essence 1982
Third Woman: Looking East Vol. 1 No. 2, 1982
“Blood Ties” by Alexis DeVeaux, Esssence 1983
“Why Women Rebel: A Comparative Study of South African Women’s Resistance in Bloemfontien and Johannesburg, Journal of Southern African Studies, 1984 (v.10 issue 1)
Many Voices, One Chant: Black Feminist Perspectives (Feminist Review 17), 1984
“Revolutionary Hope: A Conversation between James Baldwin and Audre Lorde”, Essence 1984
Blue Heat: A Collection of Poems and Drawings, Alexis De Veaux, 1985
Gaptooth Girlfriends: The Third Act, (from a Workshop by Alexis De Veaux), The Third Act Press, 1985.
“Transforming Socialist Feminism: The Challenge of Racism”, Kum-Kum Bhavani; Margaret Coulson Feminist Review 23, Summer 1986
Evolution of a Race Riot, Zine ed Mimi Nguyen, 1998?
Sojourner: The Women’s Forum: The Lady is Butch, 1999
Ocho y Media, zine no date
Self Defense, zine by Marissa, (after 1999)
How to Stage a Coup: An Insurrection of the Underground Liberation Army, (comp date)
Rage Against #2, zine
I am Intimate with Anger #2, zine by Ann
I’d Sell My Soul to Survive (Discharge #5), zine by Mary,
I am Not a Sell-Out/I am Not a Nigger, Zine by Kerith, no date
Message to the Black Movement, Steering Committee of the Black Liberation Army (no date)
“Rites of Passage: Preparing Youth for Social Change”, Susan Wilcox, Khary Lazarre-White, and Jason Warwin (Brotherhood/SisterSol), Afterschool Matters, Spring 2004.
Ladies Pages: African American Women’s Magazines and the Culture that Made Them, Noliwe Rooks, 2004.
Dancing in the Dark, Caryl Phillips, 2005
Hermana Resist #5 (Under the Yellow Lights) and #6 (In My Defense: On Being), Noemi Martinez, circa 2005-2007
Sisu #3 and #4, Johanna Eeva, circa 2005-2007
Oh So Intense: Online Publication of the Poetry by the People Community Writing Intensive, ed. Ebony Golden, 2007.
Oh So Intense: Online Publication of the Poetry by the People Community Writing Intensive, ed. Ebony Golden, 2007 (

June Jordan was a badass. Even her dad said she had "thuglike tendencies". Reading through her letters at the Radcliffe Institute this past week I noticed that time and time again Jordan wrote angry letters to lazy, racist or badminded publications about their misuse of her work and dared them "just publish this letter, and save us both the trouble." Damn.

And June never pretended that she wasn't a fighter. So while the (wonderful attentive) archivist notes that some people complain that June Jordan was "difficult". I say...June Jordan was a tough loving teacher, insisting that everything she wrote...especially a letter to the editors...was a teaching moment. And a dare. None of the recipients of her angriest letters ever printed her missives about their shortcomings in their pages...because her words were too strong, too true to brave to close. June Jordan teaches us that every letter (now i mean it in the sense of the characters that make up words) must be a threat to the status quo. Maybe this is outcast publication at its best. Jordan's poems and essays themselves literally tell readers to "be afraid" because "i must become a menace to my enemies", but these unpublishable letters do something else...engender an unease, a privatized shame, a twist that says...this is what you own, your cowardice.

So it makes sense (to me) that Jordan only sent letters like this to white folks and white-run publications. In one hundred letters to Essence not one rips someone a new subscriptions (and we all know that Essence has pun intended), but somehow (though Jordan rewrote her contracts with them to ensure that she, not the magazine, had control over whether or not her words would be "reproduced"(that's the contract language)...Jordan had a different investment in that black male owned, black woman edited black woman audience geared space. I suspect that her inside knowledge of the tireless work executive editor Cheryll Greene and poetry/contributing editor Alexis DeVeaux did to counter the consumerist, tourist producing beauty sell of the magazine with a broad-based, sincere and radical diasporic consciousness based on the power of black women and words...might have had something to do with it. So in some cases a letter is a love thing, a way to remind yourself who you love...not a threat but a thread to follow towards hope.

So left for me to learn is how do I temper my temper and choose my words (as I embark on six months of letter writing today with the primary act of stealing fancy envelopes today)? Who do I remind not to touch me and who do I embrace despite their glaring contradictions? (Because I am seriously considering forcing every person at my university to fear me so much that they'll never get close enough to assault me and be rewarded for it. Because I am a very very angry black girl when I think about how my school pays rapists more than teachers...) Are either of these things (papercuts and hugs) sustainable? Do they cancel each other out? Remember June Jordan was a small bodied youthful spirit who stayed young died love, suffered illness all her life and finally died of breast cancer. June Jordan is someone who should be here now. And though she is here now (and I don't resent the work it takes to conjure her) I'm heavier for mourning her loss. Where does all the badass energy go? Does it build up fences,draw sharp lines in sand? Does it fortify a safe space for us to stand? Does it remind those who slight us what they already know...that we are smarter than them and they're scared? Or is it an act of justifed theft, energy and righteousness stolen back to be shuttled into our own growing dreams. June Jordan was part of a group called the Sisterhood (along with Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Ntozake Shange etc. etc.) that dreamed about making something called Kizzy Enterprises...Ntozake Shange was going to put it in her house, and they were going to publish autonomously and they were going to be funded completely by committed black allies and they were going to republish lost black classics and they were going to write for and as the oppressed black masses and they were going to meet up with the Flamboyant Ladies theatre group and end nuclear war over brunch in Alexis DeVeaux's sunroom and they were going to.... save us all.